|MA-01: 60.9% D
Incumbent: Richard Neal (D-Springfield)
A true Western Mass seat will include all of Berkshire County, the cities of Greenfield, Northampton, and Amherst, as well as Springfield and its suburbs. The population of Western Mass is just a little too high for all of that, so the suburban towns of Ludlow and Wilbraham have to go elsewhere. (Overall, the population of four western counties is 97,000 over the CD threshold, which screws things up quite a bit elsewhere. If the west had lost an extra hundred thousand people the COI lines would be much nicer.)
Anyway, this district is very liberal, and Richard Neal should be fine here.
MA-02: 57.1% R
Incumbent: Jim McGovern (D-Worcester)
Central Mass and Worcester County are co-terminous, and ideally we'd be able to put all but the easternmost part of the county in the 2nd district. But the extra 97K people from Western Mass have to be included here, which forces the CMass district to drop the eastern half of the Blackstone Valley as well as the Boroughs area. The district includes Worcester and all its suburbs; the cities of Fitchburg, Leominster, and Gardner; the woodsy areas north and west of Worcester, and half of the Blackstone Valley. Martha Coakley only won two towns in this district. McGovern would be in for a real race.
Let's skip the 3rd for now.
MA-04: 52.0% R
There's a few different ways to draw the southeast; I decided to treat it as two separate communities of interest. First, there's the Cape and Islands, and the Cranberry Country towns (inc. Plymouth) that are the most Cape-like of anything on the mainland. Then, there's the South Coast, dominated by the cities of Fall River and New Bedford. The district needed a little more population so I tacked on the Providence suburbs; an equally viable option would have been adding the city of Taunton, but this looked cleaner. This would be a tough uphill climb for any Republican, since the cities, the Islands, and the liberal half of the Cape drown out the Inner Cape and southern Plymouth County, which happen to be the most Republican parts of the state.
MA-05: 58.3% R
Incumbent: Niki Tsongas (D-Lowell)
The first question was whether to split the North Shore or the Merrimack Valley; I went with the former since I was trying to keep this seat as un-Boston as possible. The 5th centers on Lowell and Lawrence and the towns around them, and reaches to include the northern part of Essex County, which is quieter than the southern part. I-495 is the spinal cord of this seat, connecting the east to the west. There are some commuter towns included, like Wilmington and Billerica, but that's not a huge problem since the Merrimack Valley has more residents who work in Boston than the other three outlying regions.
This is a pretty good seat for a Republican looking to challenge Tsongas, as it's 4 points better than the old 5th. It's too bad that both Bruce Tarr and Richard Tisei live in the 6th.
MA-06: 52.3% R
Incumbents: John Tierney (D-Salem), Ed Markey (D-Malden)
This is a Metro-North seat consisting almost exclusively of bedroom towns, most of which are pretty middle-of-the-road in terms of state politics. (Note that it's about the same as the Cape seat in terms of PVI, but much less polarized.) The southern part of the district is gritty (Malden, Revere, Lynn), but the rest is pretty wealthy and moderate. I considered putting the fishing town of Gloucester in the 5th, but I kept it here because it's easier to access from this part of the state. I-93, I-95, Route 1, and 128 North tie this district together.
Woburn is split between this seat and the 7th for population reasons. It is the only municipality, besides Boston, that I split.
Politically, the southeastern part of the seat is very tough for any Republican, so Tisei would have a hard time getting the votes needed to beat Tierney (Markey would be off limits). He's probably happy that the Democrats didn't take my advice on the 6th. This configuration might even be trending away from the GOP.
MA-07: 61.6% D
Incumbent: Barney Frank (D-Newton)
This is the MetroWest seat, serviced by the Pike, 128, and Route 2 (three of the worst roads for traffic in the state). The towns get less urban as you move west, with a clear division between Newton/Watertown/Brookline/Cambridge, and the rest of the district, which is the real MetroWest. I'm not thrilled with the southern arm into Dedham and Norwood, but they had to go somewhere and this seat needed population.
This district has an entirely different political culture from the other two suburban seats, which is why Cambridge is tacked on here instead of somewhere else. These are the stereotypical Massachusetts liberals, the Elizabeth Warren donors, and with a few exceptions (Weston, Waltham, the southern arm), this seat is filled with latte-drinking, Whole Foods-shopping, Lexus-driving trial lawyers. It's a little bit of an exaggeration but not much.
MA-08: 73.9% D
Incumbent: Mike Capuano (D-Somerville)
The Hub. It's possible to keep Boston intact in one seat, but you'd have to split one of the suburban towns since there's no perfect combination to get you to the magic number. So once I realized I couldn't avoid splitting a town here, I decided it had to be Boston since it splits more naturally than anything else, and there's precedence for putting Southie and Dorchester with the southern suburbs. The rest of the city is here, along with Chelsea to maximize minority population, and Everett and Somerville because they fit population-wise. Capuano will be happy with that last part.
MA-09: 56.1% R
Incumbents: Stephen Lynch (D-Boston), Bill Keating (D-Quincy)
The Metro-South district (or the fifth province of Ireland, if you prefer). This one sort of drew itself, following I-93 and Route 3 south from Dorchester to Duxbury, which is generally the furthest south people commute from. This seat has its share of grit (Brockton, which doesn't fit anywhere), its middle-class, Catholic enclaves (Quincy, Weymouth, the Boston slice), and its wealthy towns on the South Shore. All of it is just a bit more conservative than you'd expect, culturally as well as politically. Scott Brown raises a lot of money in this district.
Republicans are doing better here as of late but the local Democratic brand remains strong, as evidenced by Keating's strong showing in the north in 2010. The politics are about the same as Keating's old seat, putting it one the edge of in-play, and this figures to trend right over the decade.
MA-03: 58.6% R
Here's that exurban leftovers seat I was talking about, formed out of parts of 6 of the 10 old districts. It's dominated by small cities like Framingham, Marlborough, Milford, Franklin, and Taunton, which are all connected by I-495, the road that marks the edge of Metro Boston. The 3rd starts in the north with the commercialized Route 9 corridor (the Boroughs and Framingham/Natick), which is the buffer region between Worcester and Boston. Further south there are the true exurbs of Boston and Providence, as well as the eastern Blackstone Valley, which didn't fit in the CMass seat.
This is the best district for the GOP on the map, as it probably has a low D+ PVI (52-53% Obama.) I'd expect Mitt Romney to win it next year if he's the nominee. Scott Brown lives here and got about 62% of the vote in 2010. Richard Ross (Brown's successor in the legislature) would be the obvious GOP pick, and with Framingham-Natick the only source of Dem strength here, he'd probably win.
There you go--have at it. I can already hear the grumblings in Woburn.